April 17, 2014

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Skylab and Space Junk

Remembering the biggest piece of space junk ever...warn Chicken Little.

There was a recent story about a near miss for the International Space Station being hit by a piece of "space junk".

Astronauts were ordered into their escape capsules, in case the worst case actually happened. But the debris passed about 800 feet away, and everyone relaxed again.

But the offending piece of debris was never identified.  "What is Space Junk" asked one of our anchors?

It can be anything from a spare nut or bolt that was left behind "floating in space" after a repair, to a falling booster rocket or shielding that was shed during deployment...to an unsecured glove that floats out of an unsecured airlock. (Of course, floating in space is not accurate.  It's just that it's orbiting as fast as the space ship is, and that means it seems to be floating along with you.

But the largest piece of space junk in memory was something called. "Skylab", which fell to earth in the 1970s.  Just think of it as a very large space capsule that was a stepping stone toward the ISS.

But when it was announced that it was going to come back to earth, somewhat uncontrolled, the media had a field day.  Everyone was upset.  Everyone was fearful, when really, only a few countries around the world had anything to worry about.

Even the National Enquirer got into the act, with a reward being offered for the very first piece of confirmed Sky-Lab piece delivered to them.

As it turns out, the majority of the SkyLab shell fell into the Indian ocean, but it was thought a few pieces might land on Australia in the outback.  And they were right. The first confirmed piece was from Australia.

Why is this important?

Cause Chicken Little was right!  "Skylab" was falling!

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